Saturday, May 19, 2012

Where The Heart Is by Janet Lambert

Books have a funny way of finding me.  Sometimes just the right book comes to me at just the right time.  Lately, I've been missing the quietness of the country, and the small town life from which I came.  I've been looking for a book to divert my attention from where I actually am, in a town growing faster than it can handle, in a neighborhood surrounded by strangers.

So when I found Where the Heart Is by Janet Lambert at the local public library's Spring book sale I felt it was luck, with maybe a bit more than luck sprinkled in.  For a mere fifty-cents, this little green book with its worn cover and bent corners was exactly what I needed to help me slip away to the country life for 30 minutes every evening.

My well loved copy was printed in 1949, and it is a children's book, geared more towards teenage girls of that time.  It's about a family who temporarily moves from the city to the country. 

Because it is a children's book, the story is quite simple and easy to read.  It's the type of book I'd read on a rainy day, while sitting on a front porch swing (if I had one) with a warm quilt draped across my lap and a cup of tea on the side table. 

Mmmm, this would do, but it needs more cushions and maybe a cat. 
...The story revolves around 14 year old Christy Drayton, the youngest daughter of the Drayton family. Christy is one of those high spirited characters whose attitude is so sunshiny positive it almost makes you wanna barf.  But she is likable and as the story unfolds we find that the family is in a bit of a predicament.  The new house they've purchased in Philadelphia is still occupied and is not move-in-ready.  They've been living in hotels for weeks and have finally gotten permission from an old Aunt to use her son's (Cousin Edwin's) house in the country while he is away.  Clear as mud, I know, but it gets better.  They don't have keys to the house, so they set up house in the livable part of the huge barn that houses Cousin Edwin's prized horses. (This is New England and living in barns was apparently considered a trendy, artistic way to live at that time). 
This is kind of what I envision Cousin Edwin's farm to be like, except with more trees and the house would be farther away from the barn.  Uncle Edwin lives in the house and Christy and her family live in the barn.  They do his house cleaning and bring him breakfast every morning.
The barn is comfortable with a living room area, complete with a bump out window and cushioned window seat, kitchen and a bathroom down the stable hall (past the horses).  And much to the mother's chagrin, they must climb a ladder every night to sleep in a loft.  The mom is not very good at climbing ladders, but eventually gets the hang of it.
Christy becomes friends with Roger, the stable boy who lives down the lane.  Roger introduces Christy to the "whole gang" and together they have a summer filled with trips into the local village, hay rides, picnics, and bicycle rides down country lanes.  But then, Cousin Edwin comes home early (dun dun dun).  Will he kick them out of the barn leaving them homeless?  Will their house in the city ever be ready for them, or will they stay in the country?  Will Cousin Edwin ever smile!?  The ending is all very neat and tidy *sigh* and they all live happily ever after. 

Janet Lambert did write a second Christy Drayton book called Treasure Trouble and I hope to read that one as well if I can find it.  That's one of the hard parts about these great old books, they are sometimes difficult to find and even more difficult to purchase.

Autumn would like this book and if I can tear her away from her Nancy Drew Mysteries I will read it to her this summer. 
Have a Happy Day!

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